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Essay on the Paradox of War and the Code of the Warrior



In writing “Caius, The making of the Hero”, I found myself at odds with many seeming contradictions on life and humanity in general, the most poignant being that contradiction on the subject of war and the soldiers who wage it.

War is no doubt the most terrifying and dreadful event that humans can ever experience. The mass destruction of human life cannot, and should not be condoned ever. Yet even today with all our insights and religious convictions against such tragedies, the occasions of war are multiplying exponentially, instead of decreasing. And the waging of warfare is if anything becoming more foul and terrifying, through the use of weapons whose very existence makes us shudder at how low and vicious humanity can ultimately become. Let me make one point very clear: war is not a viable solution to any problem.

Having said this, the reality of war must still be reckoned with. The causes of war and the kinds of people who cause wars are the subject of my book. However this essay will deal more with the people engaged and their actions.

It is a great paradox that although war is so loathsome an event, as I have just mentioned, it is still probably the only event in all of history which has been capable of bringing forth in human beings the highest and most laudatory of virtues. And at times – and not a few – it has brought forth a selflessness, love and devotion for humanity equaled only by Jesus Christ himself.

Also in all cultures and civilizations both ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, the warrior has been honored as a figure to be revered for his selflessness, devotion, loyalty, honesty, integrity, and all of this very often posthumously…he having performed the supreme sacrifice for his fellows. Truly, greater love than this hath no man that he should give up his life or limbs for his fellows. This exemplary conduct as outlined above, and needing no further elucidation, is what has been called the “Code of the Warrior”. All of this is a far cry from the conduct of the pompous, arrogant and greedy politicians and financiers, who actually cause the wars.

This “Code of the Warrior” transcends any cause or partisanship to which the attributes of right and wrong may be applied. Before the appearance of Christ, the virtues of this code were held up as examples of the highest virtues then known. And even in Christ’s time, and afterwards, Christianity and Christians were likened to warriors in the fight against evil. Time and again in the bible the analogy to war and warriors is used, not disparagingly, but as signs of the highest courage and fortitude and virtue. Indeed, are not the Angels themselves warriors in the army of the Lord? Or in the gospel when Christ is traveling in Capernaum, a Centurion petitions him to heal the sufferings of his servant. Now a Centurion is an officer who fights in the field, and obtained his rank through merit and bravery, indeed who certainly lived by the code of the warrior, a code of conduct almost identical to that which Christ taught. Is it no wonder that Christ was impressed with this man?

One of the most annoying contradictions is that often this code applied also to those we might term downright villains. In my book, Caesar and Sulla were both outstanding examples of this code. On the battlefield, both exhibited and executed this code without exemption. Both were the pure and “holy” knights in battle. The difference was that Caesar made this code a part of his life, while Sulla used it as only a tool to accomplish his own vicious agenda.

Again, it is indeed the greatest of paradoxes that the most pure and virtuous conduct exhibited by human beings should be found in the pursuit of the most loathsome of undertakings.

It is indeed a dreadful shame that today the code of the warrior is being disparaged and in essence mocked as something evil or foolish. It is not a surprise that in a society that elevates the spy and the assassin to the roles of heroes; that glories in deceit, treachery and cupidity as the essence of life; it is not a surprise that in such a society the code of the warrior has been confused with war mongering, and the evil aims that those who cause the wars pursue. It is not a surprise since those who cause the confusion are the very ones who cause the wars. It is my hope that in spite of this, the soldiers of all nations will continue to live by this code. And that all good people should incorporate this code within themselves, and perhaps a day will come when the code of the warrior will cease to be a warrior’s code, since there will be no more wars!

One more thing should be mentioned. Perhaps my readers may think that this is only a male code, not applicable to females, since warriors are only male. Think again, this is a code for all, regardless of gender, as Caesar’s family amply proves in the book. Besides, what true mother does not demonstrate this very code in her selfless love for her children; or indeed what mother would not lay down her very life for her children or family for that matter?

Today our children need heroes, not comic book fantasy heroes, or overpaid drug enhanced athletes, or tinsel town celebrities just out of rehab, or even spies and assassins, but people who incorporated the code within themselves. Unfortunately, these can only mainly be found today in the tales of the ancient heroes (both male and female). The bible is one source, but beyond this the tales of the ancient Greeks and Romans of the Republic are hard to find and read; and indeed, often they are hard to decipher. So I hope that Caius will be another source to supplement these.

Finally, I dedicate Caius to all the individual soldiers of every nation (and their families), who are true warriors, who live by the Warrior’s Code, but whose real cause is to seek an end to all wars.



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Originally Published:

October 11, 2007

Revised:

January 2, 2014